New Jersey lawmaker seeks protective overpass fencing

| 11/24/2008

A bill in the New Jersey Assembly that is intended to add a barrier of protection for drivers in the state could come up for consideration in the time remaining in the legislative session.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Trenton, is the sponsor of a bill that would require the installation of protective fencing along certain highway overpasses in the state to prevent objects from being dropped onto the roadway below.

The bill would require New Jersey’s Department of Transportation, Highway Authority, Turnpike Authority, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, counties and municipalities to install protective fencing along certain overpasses carrying a road or highway.

Municipalities and counties would be reimbursed for the costs of meeting the provisions of the bill.

This is Gusciora’s fourth attempt to get the overpass protection bill approved. The previous three efforts failed to advance from committee.

Gusciora cites the January 2003 death of a Hopewell Township, NJ, woman for his pursuit of the new rule.

Elaine Cowell was killed after an 18-pound chunk of ice was dropped from an overpass and smashed through the windshield of the car she was driving.

Gusciora said the incident “illustrates the need for protective fencing along certain overpasses.”

The bill – A1748 – is in the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee. It must pass through the Assembly and Senate before the Legislature finishes up its work in early January.

To view other legislative activities of interest in New Jersey in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor